Family Law | Shared Parental Leave

Under plans for parental leave to be shared between mothers and fathers, new fathers could get nearly 12 months of leave after the birth of their baby. This leave could start just two weeks after the baby is born, if the mother decides to return to work.

The Government plans to announce the new flexible parental leave scheme later this month to honour its promise made in the Coalition Agreement in 2010. It is, however, unlikely that the system will be introduced before 2015 due to a disagreement in the Cabinet over the impact the scheme will have on businesses.

Last month the British Chambers of Commerce said that it supported the objective of helping mothers return to work, but is “yet to see proposals on flexible parental leave that are workable”.

In the original consultation, ministers outlined plans to reserve 18 weeks of paid leave to mothers around the birth of the child, with a further 30 weeks available to be shared between both parents, 17 of which would be paid.

In the Government Consultation paper on Modern Workplaces, May 2011, a proposal was put forward that any remaining leave should be available for either parent and parents would be allowed to take this leave concurrently.

420,000 families every year could benefit from the proposal, but estimates from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) predicted that only up to 13,500 couples would find it economically beneficial to switch the allowance from mother to father.

The BIS has also had to conduct a feasibility study on how it will monitor the payment to ensure parents do not claim simultaneously and will have to build a new IT system that is expected to cost £22 million.

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Mackrell Turner Garrett Solicitors in London

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